International media has turned its attention to the dark side of the K-pop industry after the sudden death of Moon Bin, a member of the group ASTRO.
On April 19th, The Guardian reported, “Several other young K-pop stars have died in recent years,” mentioning Kara’s Goo Hara, f(x) ’s Sulli, SHINee’s Jonghyun, and 100%’s Minwoo. The news outlet pointed out the problems in the Korean idol training system by citing these examples. The report also noted, “K-pop stars are picked up by agencies at a young age – usually in their early or mid-teens – and live under tight control, with their days taken over by grueling musical and dance training.” It also analyzed that Sulli had suffered from online harassment for a long time before her death and that her death had led demands in South Korea for stronger punishments for cybercrimes and abusive online comments.
BBC also listed cases of K-pop stars’ deaths, including those mentioned by The Guardian, as well as actress Jung Chae Yull, a 26-year-old actress who was found dead at home earlier this month, and actress Yoo Joo Eun, an actress who died at the age of 27 in August last year. The news outlet pointed out the excessive pressure that K-pop idols face and reported that “Known for its hyper-competitive culture, South Korea also has the highest rate of youth suicide among developed countries. While its overall suicide rate is falling, deaths of those in their 20s are rising.”
The New York Times also reported on Moonbin’s death, stating that “Moonbin is the most recent of a series of Korean celebrities in their 20s to have died suddenly. In 2019, the deaths of two other K-pop stars left South Korea soul-searching over what had gone wrong in one of its most popular cultural exports.”